Hadassah Medical Organizations campuses back to normal staffers' dispute

Protesting over dismissals, Hadassah administrative and maintenance workers hold first-ever siege on two hospital campuses for three hours.

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August 28, 2013 19:22
2 minute read.
Hadassah Hospital.

Hadassah hospital 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The Jerusalem Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus medical center campuses of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) returned to normal on Wednesday after three hours in which administrative and maintenance workers barred entrance with their cars and bodies.

It was an unprecedented act in the country’s history for a union to prevent entry of medical staffers, patients and visitors to hospitals.

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HMO director-general Avigdor Kaplan halted the sanctions by agreeing to the request of Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini and freezing the procedure for dismissal of 200 employees. The agreement stated that staffers would immediately return to work in exchange for a freeze in the dismissals and the holding of direct and continuous negotiations by Histadrut officials and Kaplan over a recovery plan.

HMO is in severe financial difficulties, with short- and long-term deficits of over NIS 1.3 billion due to a shortfall in donations from the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) and HMO management’s agreement with the treasury to give a 26 percent discount on all services to the four public health funds. Government hospitals are required to give the insurers only a 16% discount.

Kaplan, who was brought in by HWZOA a few months ago, intended to fire non-medical staffers he maintained were “too expensive,” and to hire instead fewer people who earn less. The union of administrative and maintenance staff claimed that Kaplan wanted his “own people” to run the hospitals, and that such a move would not necessarily save money.

HMO spokeswoman Racheli Goldblatt denied this, saying that while Kaplan brought in three new deputy directorsgeneral, he dismissed seven who had been working there for years. Goldblatt, a public relations professional from the Dan Region who said she has known Kaplan for many years, replaced Eti Dvir, HMO’s inhouse spokeswoman for the past two years.

Goldblatt sent out short videos showing a Hadassah physician being pushed violently and cursed by administrative and maintenance personnel when the doctor tried to get into the Ein Kerem medical center. The demonstrators closed all 15 entrances to the hospital as well as a smaller number at the Mount Scopus campus. The union said it was allowing in medical staffers and patients heading to delivery rooms, emergency departments, dialysis units and oncology departments, but Goldblatt denied this was true.

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On Tuesday, the union declared that the hospitals would work only the same hours as a reduced Shabbat schedule.

When the entrances were blocked, the Health Ministry announced that it had instructed Magen David Adom to take patients on ambulances meant for Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, which is not affected. The ministry spokeswoman said that on Tuesday night, it had asked the Israel Police to prevent the Hadassah hospital campuses from being put under siege by the workers, but that it “had difficulty doing so.”

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